There’s never a shortage of debate among fitness pros over the best time of day for exercise. Most recently, a new study of overweight and sedentary men published in the journal Diabetologia found that the single best time you should exercise is in the early evening. The scientists discovered that late-day exercise is best for heart health and reducing your harmful cholesterol levels.
While I wholeheartedly support those findings—and I’d encourage anyone to work out in the late afternoon or early evening, when your circadian rhythm has primed your body for optimal athletic performance—I also understand the reality of modern life. After all, any exercise is good exercise, and I’m an enormous proponent of being active when you wake up.
There’s tons of science to support the fact that morning workouts jumpstart your day, help you boost your metabolism, and even help your brain make better eating decisions afterward. One study published in the International Journal of Cancer reported that exercising between 8 AM and 10 AM is linked to lower risk of breast cancer among women and lower prostate cancer risk for men. In lesser news, a survey by one company found that sweating more in the morning will actually cause you to become a cleaner person.
But there’s a more obvious perk to morning exercise that I’d argue makes it worthwhile: Once you’re done, you’re done. For most people, the longer the day goes, the less likely they’re going to get in their workout.
So what’s a good workout you should do? If you’re in the market for a total-body, heart-pumping, and muscle-building routine that you can do at home in really short order, I’ve written one up for you here. It relies on compound moves, which work multiple muscle groups at once, which makes it hugely efficient and great at burning fat. The only equipment you need? A pair of dumbbells. So read on, set a timer for 5 minutes and perform as many sets of the following exercises back to back as you can. And for more great exercise advice, don’t miss the Secret Side Effects of Lifting Weights for the First Time, Says Science.
Keeping your chest tall and core tight, hold a pair of dumbbells and throw your hips back, then pop your hips forward and clean the weight up to your shoulders. Squat down until your hips are parallel to the floor, then drive through the heels and explode up. Use the momentum of the squat to press the weight up, then lower it back down to starting position before performing another rep. And for more great exercises you can do, see these 5-Minute Exercises for a Flatter Stomach Fast.
Start the exercise by performing a Romanian Deadlift. Keeping your chest tall and core tight, soften your knees and drag the weights down your thighs until they’re below your kneecaps. Get a good hamstring stretch at the bottom, then row the weight towards you, squeezing your lats and upper back.
Straighten your arms fully, then drive your hips forward, squeezing your glutes to finish.
Begin by taking one step back with one leg until your knee touches the ground. Drive through the heel of the front leg to come back up, then perform a single leg deadlift by pushing your hips back with the trailing leg straight. Stretch your hamstring at the end of the movement, then drive your hip forward, squeezing your glutes to finish.
Perform all reps on one side before switching to the other leg.
With your weights out to your side, begin stepping out laterally. Plant your heel firmly while keeping your trailing leg straight. Get a good stretch with your inner thigh at the bottom of the movement, then curl both weights up, flexing your biceps hard.
Straighten your legs fully, then push yourself back to starting position before performing another rep. Perform all reps on one side before stepping out with the other leg. And for some exercises to avoid, don’t miss this list of The Worst Exercises You Can Do After 60.